Please Help Me Understand Saddle Fit

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Please Help Me Understand Saddle Fit

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    06-20-2009, 01:33 PM
Please Help Me Understand Saddle Fit

I am trying to understand what type of saddle I need to fit my horse. I haven't had any luck with trying saddles form saddle shops because there ain't hardly any around. Only like a feed store or two that doesn't have much to choose from. I really wanting to order one...but I am so confused about the bar types and what I need. Jeffers Equine catalog says: Semi QH bars are 6.5" gullet, the most common tree, for medium back, descent wither and often mixed blood horse. They say Regular QH bars 6.75" Often works for horses that are hard to fit, They are between semi and Full QH bars. Full QH bars...I won't even bother because I know I don't need full.
But it sounds like it works up from most narrow to most wide. Like semi would be the most narrow. Plus many barrel saddles are semi QH bars and I hear that my breed of horse it pretty popular among barrel racers, Thoroughbred/QH. But anyways, I sent these pics to a saddle shop online and the guys said that semi QH bars would slide side to side on this horse, and he recommeneded regular QH bars with a more narrow gullet like 6.5" regular QH bars. So now I'm just thoroughly confused. Why would semi bars not be the thing. Beacuse I think the saddle I have now (in the pic) is probably 6 3/4" gullet. And I need something much more narrow!
Here is a link to the pics of my horses back. It's in the other thread I started where I am getting info on getting her weight up.
Questions about nutrition and weight.
Also below is a pic of how my saddle I have now fits. Horrible Fit!!! I have to use two pads just to squeak by.
So I always thought narrow, tall, thinner withers, Semi QH bars. Slightly wider shorter more square shoulders, regular QH bars. Full QH bars for low withered very wide and blocky broad backed horses. Help...
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File Type: jpg saddle fit 050 (Medium).jpg (69.3 KB, 159 views)
File Type: jpg saddle fit 044 (Medium).jpg (66.3 KB, 165 views)
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    06-20-2009, 03:51 PM
There is a web site I just love that has an excellent explanation of saddle fitting
I do believe that saddle looks to big for your horse. You should be able to see light all the way down the spine and have I believe 4 fingers width between the wither and the bottom of the pommel. Otherwise the saddle is basically sitting right on the horses spine which is a big no-no.

Here is the site I hope you can gain some knowledge from it. I know I have.

How to position the saddle on your horse: Proper Placement

Here is the main index. There is one for tree sizes explained

The best online tools, articles, and links about Western Saddle Fitting for horse and rider.
    06-20-2009, 04:22 PM
Nice link, Vidaloco


The Saddle you show, I would say is a FQH 7" Gullet, could be RQH 6.75" but definitely way too wide, the angle of the bars is wrong too.

These are averages from the more popular tree makers

Semi-QH 6.5" Gullet 88 degree bar angles
Reg-QH 6.75" Gullet 91 degree bar angles
Full-QH 7" Gullet 93 degree bar angles

As you can see it is not just the width, but more important the angle of the bars, ie wrong angle, binding or pinching.

Whether or not the saddle you have now is RGH or FGH, because of the pics and breed mix, 90% of the time I would say a Semi-QH would be the place to start.

    06-20-2009, 04:32 PM
Green Broke
Before you can understand fit, you need to understand placement. You have the saddle too far forward over your horse's shoulders. You can get away with that if the saddle has a lot of "flare" to the front of the tree. Most newer saddles (made in the last 20 years) do not have a lot of flare. Because of that, you need to put the saddle back so that those front conchos are about 1-2" BEHIND the back EDGE of the horse's shoulder blade. This allows the horse to have freedom of movement in the shoulders and prevent saddle sores.

If your horse has hollows behind the withers and most saddles "fall down" in to those pockets, then you need to get a saddle pad that will fill in for those hollows. Pro Choice makes one with extra padding there, or a built up roper pad, or something like a Skito Correction pad (used over a thin blanket or felt pad).

Okay, so once you have placement figured out, you can look at fit. First, the saddle needs to be the right length. Once you have it placed on your horse properly, look at where the back of the saddle sits. The skirts should not be over the hips, or close to the hips. The back concho should be BEFORE the front edge of the horse's flank. If you feel around on the top of your horse's ribs, it should be about 1-2" before the last edge of the ribs.

So the saddle tree should be 1-2" behind the shoulder and 1-2" before the edge of the last rib. It can be shorter than that, but it should be no longer.

Next, you need to look at how it lays at the front of the horse. The front edge of the saddle should follow the line of the horse's side/shoulder, and be the same angle. You should have 2-3 fingers of clearance above the withers as well. The front concho should be somewhere on the withers, about halfway down, depending on the size of the withers.

Next, you need to feel under the saddle. Cinch it up lightly (not pad) and run your hand from the very front to the very back, under the saddle, with your fingertips an inch or two down from the spine. You should feel even pressure front to back, no tight spots or air pockets.

Finally, step back and look at the balance of the saddle. If you have a horse with hollows behind his withers, put your pad to fix it under the saddle, or fold a towel over and put it under the front. Look at how the saddle sits. The seat should be even and the pommel and cantle should be level.

Most modern stock horses need QH or Full QH bar saddles. Very few narrow stock horses or appendix types will need Semi-QH bars. For your horse, I agree, try both regular QH bars or Semi-QH and see how it goes. Each manufacturer and brand is different, and even some old saddles of the same brand will fit differently than newer ones. You're just going to have to try a bunch on!
    06-22-2009, 12:08 AM
Thanks for all the info!! Thanks for the links too!!! That site has tons of info on saddle fit.
    06-22-2009, 12:09 PM
Here are my thoughts - and my 2Ę.

I don't think the saddle is too far forward but too far back. Putting the saddle further back will place you, the rider, over the center of his back when you want to be further forward. Placing the saddle further back will put your cinch on his belly and not 2" back from his elbow and around the heartgirth.

Next. Putting a saddle on a horse without a pad serves very little purpose as far as I'm concerned. The moment you put a pad on his back, that changes everything. A 1" pad adds 2" to each side of his withers and drastically changes fit.

The only purpose of putting a saddle on without a pad is to check out the bar angle.

I do agree that your saddle is too wide and that affects the bar angle. I think that you need to move towards a semi QH bar saddle. Many of the American made saddles use Steele trees so that a semi QH bar in one brand saddle should be the same in another brand if they are using the same tree. I would also look at a saddle that has choice of rigging. Many good saddles today can be rigged full or 7/8 and can make a difference on a particular horse. My current saddle works better full on Boomer but worked better 7/8 on Bobo.
    06-22-2009, 12:17 PM
Green Broke
Saddle placement is more important than girth placement. You can have rigging moved forward or back on most saddles to accommodate a forward girth groove. However, putting the saddle too far forward can cause pressure points and restrict the horse's shoulder movement. Some horses do fine with this and some saddles are made for it (with lots of flare to the front of the tree), but most horses don't and most saddles aren't.
    06-22-2009, 12:53 PM
Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979    
Saddle placement is more important than girth placement. You can have rigging moved forward or back on most saddles to accommodate a forward girth groove. However, putting the saddle too far forward can cause pressure points and restrict the horse's shoulder movement. Some horses do fine with this and some saddles are made for it (with lots of flare to the front of the tree), but most horses don't and most saddles aren't.
luvs2ride, although I agree to many of your posts, I just can't agree to this one.

Most saddles, especially those with drop plate rigging can't be changed - or at least economically if at all possible. In fact I don't think many saddles that start out as 7/8 can be changed to a more forward rigging. Using the rear cinch slots, you can successfully change the forward rigging to a 7/8 or even center fire.

Girth placement will affect yours horse's movement and comfort. A girth that is too far back will want to slip forward and ultimately loosen. That is the reason that every mfg uses the 2" from the elbow as their sweet spot.

I do agree that too far forward will hinder the horse's shoulder but too far back will cause undo stress on his back.
    06-22-2009, 02:43 PM
I was looking at the pics again, my opinion is until a Saddle with the correct tree is put on the Horse, I would find it hard to say about if the saddle is too far forward or too far back, the girth will fit different when the front of the saddle is raised up, because it will move the Rigging Ring slightly forward.

I was also looking at your other post, I think I would build up some weight and get some muscle built up before the final decision on a Saddle, but a very good portion of the time this type of Horse will still need a Semi-QH Bar.

    06-24-2009, 02:31 AM
Thanks for all the replies. It gives me a lot to think on and study on. I also think the semi OH bars will be the best fit. But I'm going to try and wait until I get a little weight built up on her before I buy one.

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